This week's gathering of the Prescott Valley Town Council proved sometimes it's the small victories that unite a community and provide hope for the future.
Council and the public gathered an hour before the regular voting session Thursday to dedicate the town's new auditorium and council chambers located in the new 40,000-square foot library. The program included a flag ceremony by the Prescott Valley Police Department, welcoming remarks by Vice Mayor Lora Lee Nye and the Pledge of Allegiance.
The public was then invited to sing along to "The Star Spangled Banner" with Susan Stewart and with The High Mountain Chordsmen to "America the Beautiful." As I looked around the auditorium, I could not help but notice how proud those attending are of their country and community; their voices bouncing from the walls and tall ceiling at this new community gathering spot. Everyone stood tall and at complete attention, with tears in the eyes of many of those joining in.
The Bradshaw Mountain High School Honor Choir was at its finest, singing "All the Things You Are," which had earned them an outstanding rating recently at competition in Flagstaff.
Hmmm, "All the Things You Are," what a perfect selection for this special time that so many had worked toward for years as the town has grown up.
Despite controversy over whether or not a private prison should be built in Prescott Valley, whether the town should be importing water from the Big Chino aquifer and other issues seemingly splitting the community at times, it was obvious that those living in Prescott Valley are taking the time to notice all the things this community has to offer.
Mayor Harvey Skoog concluded the ceremony with a speech noting the great strides made in Prescott Valley over a short time and he offered hope for the community's future.
"Today is another milestone for the citizens of Prescott Valley," said Skoog, as he recounted how council has come a long way since early days in the town when council sessions were held in a small community room now used as the senior center gathering hall. Council members moved their sessions to the magistrate court in 1999 but "as our community has grown, it becomes increasingly necessary for the court to have its own dedicated space and for the community to have its auditorium and performance hall," he said.
Skoog recognized that the two years of constructing the library and the auditorium "has been a long process, taking longer than we expected and a major undertaking. But we now have a state-of-the-art facility we can be very proud of," he said. "This auditorium that we're sitting in is a new, fresh and efficient facility that was built to provide the community a performance hall and meeting place in an environment that encourages pride in one of the best places in the country to live and to work and to relax.
"With this beautiful facility, the community can be assured of a long-term commitment that renews faith in Prescott Valley and in Arizona," Skoog said. "Growth has been good to us, even with the challenges of the economy, and it means jobs and opportunities in Prescott Valley for our residents and our neighboring communities.
"Prescott Valley has a proud record of achievement, especially considering that Prescott Valley is a relatively new community, having only been incorporated for less than 32 years," he said. "We know that with the leaders in this community who continue to provide innovative vision and the efforts being made to work together, we are a shining star of Northern Arizona."
The spirit of cooperation to bring this region to greater heights was evident at the dedication ceremony by the presence of those who came to support this council's efforts to continue building and expanding opportunities in the town. Among those attending were one of the first mayors of Prescott Valley, Philip Beeson; Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall; Yavapai County Supervisor Tom Thurman; and Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization Administrator Jody Rooney.
Cookies and punch were then served upstairs in the new Crystal Meeting Room on the third floor of the library. Those attending the dedication ceremony were in awe with the spectacular view from the glass-encased room. It was quite symbolic of how hard council and staff are working at making local government more transparent.
Transparency, cooperation and hope for a better tomorrow were the key points of the ceremony.
I've been thinking about this since Thursday night and I've got to say, I am proud to live in a community where these things matter. The fact that our community leaders choose to set time aside to focus on such quality pillars of character when they are facing declining revenues, an increasing need for capital improvements and criticism from a worried public should certainly be commended.
Maybe we could all do better to focus more on such key points in our own lives. Maybe we could start by taking some time to thank our elected officials for their dedicated service and inspire them to continue working toward a better tomorrow.